Monday, May 23, 2016

Rocking the Café Bar

French Village Diaries cabaret night Café Boulevard Melle
Rocking the Café Bar

It is not often your 15-year-old headlines at a real gig, so I thought I’d proudly share my Saturday with you, despite it turning out to be a long nine and half hours of combined taxi-ing Ed and waiting around, all for a twenty-minute performance of heavy rock. I felt like a real groupie, albeit an old and rather tired one. Much as I love our French village life, the older Ed gets the more I realise village life with teenagers has certain drawbacks and the running around is certainly one of them. I will be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to it and had resorted to bribery – I’ll make you (myself) coffee and walnut cupcakes, if you’re (I’m) brave enough to go. They helped, they really did and the bonus is that there is enough to share (with myself) this week too.

French Village Diaries fuel shortages strike action France
No fuel notices as seen in most petrol stations
The current fuel issues in France, where thousands of petrol stations have run dry due to industrial action at the fuel depots, plus the threat of a big storm, had all added to my pre-event worrying, but I’m pleased to report it actually all worked out for the best and there were even a few nice surprises. I decided that to drop Ed off, go home and then return to collect him later, which would mean an extra 50 km of driving, would be a waste of fuel. To occupy my time when he was at his first rehearsal, I went on a fuel treasure hunt and rather undramatically found fuel in the first supermarket I tried and unbelievably there were no queues and no restrictions, so I filled up the tank, with a rather smug smile on my face and scoffed a cupcake as my reward.

I have since read a lot of online criticism of people ‘panic buying’ and filling up before they would usually and I’ll admit that yes, that was me! You see I’m actually a lazy wimp. I still mourn the loss of the lady who used to fill my car up for me at our local supermarket, replaced by a machine that is happy to take my money, but offers nothing in terms of service and so we seem to have slipped into a routine. On our way to the airport Adrian fills the car with diesel, I then drive happy, easily covering about 80km a week just running Ed around plus the return trip to the airport, which could be anything from five to ten days later, without having to soil my hands filling up and Adrian sorts out the fuel on his return. So you see, filling up his mucky diesel was quite an accomplishment and unscheduled, but the last thing I want is not to be able to collect him from the airport later this week – obviously assuming the air traffic controllers will let the plane fly. Planning any form of travel in our poor troubled France (except by bike) is quite tricky at the moment.

French Village Diaries Cabaret night Boulevard Café bar Melle
Cabaret night at the Boulevard Café, Melle

After the excitement of the fuel it was a long and lonely afternoon of waiting, mostly sat alone with nothing but an empty chair, my ipad, my notebook and my cupcakes for company. Then I found a friend, a French lady I used to do yoga with but hadn’t seen for over a year. This was a lovely surprise and it was so much nicer to be sat at a table with someone to watch the much-anticipated cabaret that Ed was performing in. However, it was like no cabaret event I had ever been to before and I’m not sure TV talent show judge Simon Cowell has ever had to sit through quite what I had to sit through. 

A funny duo with outfits that really stood out kicked things off and were also the entre-act compares. She was a French Sue Perkins (British comedian), equally as funny and very talented, so long as you understand a very particular type of French humour. There were also lots of gentle folk-type music acts, humourous ballades (well, everyone else was laughing), flutes, violins and guitars. Bits I followed, bits I didn’t, but the cupcakes helped. There were French people singing in French and surprisingly in English too; political numbers with poor pronunciation that seemed a real hit with the almost totally French speaking audience. Right at the end of the night – midnight to be precise, Ed and the band he was an honoury member of for the night came on stage. This instantly shifted the night from French folk and humour to serious heavy rock, head banging, jumping, noise and some rather ripe language in one of the songs. They went down a storm with lots of cheers and whistles and at least one proud Mum in the audience. Here is a little video I took of one of their numbers:

Although the wind and rain arrived during the evening, the storm and power cuts that hit at home missed us. The drive home, with the clock ticking ever closer to 1.00am was very dark (despite the full moon), very quiet and on roads strewn with the debris of trees and hedgerows that had been bruised and battered by the storm. I was so pleased to get home, I treated myself to another cupcake and collapsed into bed.

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